Breastfeeding is hard. Really hard.
Motherhood is hard.
And if you’re anything like me, you have a constant, nagging voice pointing out all your mistakes until they tally up to a giant failure in your mind and a snowball quickly barreling towards postpartum depression. And any hiccup with breastfeeding only helps you fall right into this trap.
After I had my first baby, a friend gave me invaluable advice: she told me how to infallibly succeed as a mother. Unlike many programs and success plans, this one only has one, simple step. And it applies to everything in life, breastfeeding included.
To succeed at breastfeeding, reframe your mind, so there is no such thing as failure.
Yes. It’s good to have a plan and a goal, and I know firsthand how devastating it can be to feed your baby formula when all you want to give him or her is milk that you’ve made. But if you don’t make enough milk or get sick and need to supplement or you just don’t want to breastfeed, you shouldn’t see that as a failure. Because I will be the first to tell you that’s the start of a downward vicious spiral.
But if you see success as your baby being fed, breastfeeding can’t fail. Are you following my logic?
I know that emotionally, it’s easier said than done, but your emotions follow your mind. If you re-train your mind in what success and failure look like, your emotions will follow suit.
The first step toward this cognitive shift, is finding your support. Here are a few resources to help you along your journey in breastfeeding and re-framing your definition of success.
(Click on the red links for more info)
Whether you breastfeed for days, months, or years, you will likely come to a point where you need to pump. And now that I’ve had three kids and used three different companies to obtain a breast pump through TriCare, I can wholeheartedly say that The Breastfeeding Shop is hands-down the best. They are so fast, so easy, and cover the best pumps 100%, where other companies only offer the high end pumps as an “upgrade,” and you have to pay part of the cost out of pocket.
That my seem trivial, but when my second child needed to be only bottle fed for medical reasons, I couldn’t keep up pumping while managing a toddler and newborn (during a deployment of course…) when I had to be hooked up to an outlet for 20-40 mins every 2-3 hours. And that company only offered battery-operated pumps as an “upgrade.” But The Breastfeeding Shop not only covers those 100%, it also offers an insane amount of accessories at the time the pump is delivered AND a second set a month after your due date.
Sometimes it’s helpful to sit down with a professional to help you and your baby get a good latch. La Leche League has groups and meetings worldwide where you can get hands-on help with anything breastfeeding related. Plus, having a community of other breastfeeding moms is so helpful, especially with your first child.
Most often if the latch looks good but there is still nipple pain or weight gaining issues for the baby, a tongue tie is likely to blame. Tongue Ties are still gaining educational momentum, and many people have never even heard of them. Basically it is where the flap under the tongue is too tight and the tongue cannot move effectively and thus, the baby cannot transfer milk properly. There are usually a few qualified professionals in every area who can revise it with either scissors or a laser.
I have had three children, and each of them had both tongue and lip ties, which caused severe weight gain issues in my older two since it was not diagnosed right away. But I had all three revised at a dentist via laser, and if this is an issue for your baby, I highly recommend paying more out of pocket (tongue and lip ties are covered by TriCare, but many providers are considered out of network) to see a laser provider; there’s no recovery time and barely any pain. And it made all the difference for breastfeeding with each of my three children.
I have walked through postpartum depression and anxiety twice and feel it lurking around the corner now that I’m newly postpartum with number three.
Breastfeeding is hard. Motherhood is hard. Life is hard.
But Military OneSource offers in-person counseling from a local provider in your area and many other amazing resources for the military family free of charge (and no referral needed!). Military OneSource connected me with an amazing counselor who proved invaluable at helping me work through my complicated postpartum emotions and hormones.
Plus, in a world of digital menus asking, “Press 1 for yes and 2 for no,” it is refreshing to have a human at Military One Source answer on the first ring to direct my call.
No matter if you’re breastfeeding or formula feeding, a new mom or a veteran mom. Remember that you’ll only fail if your parameters of success allow you. Your emotions follow your mind; if you re-train your mind in what success and failure look like, your emotions will follow suit. And if you do that, as a result, you will succeed.